Podcast, Episode 73: architect Gil Schafer

Architect GIl Schafer joins the podcast to talk classical architecture, decorating, and more

Photo: Eric Piasecki

We kick off today’s episode with some talk about our favorite Super Bowl hosting tips, tricks, and recipes. Then, we are joined by the incredible architect Gil Schafer. Gil shares his love of embracing tradition and memory, why we should pursue our ideas with rigor and clarity, and the importance of moving past our comfort zone. We also talk with Gil about simple design using beautiful materials, collaboration, his work with Miles Redd, and how he makes new places feel as though they have a history.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • What we are doing for the Super Bowl, along with some delicious snacks that may be created. Warning: potato bar and homemade guacamole discussion may cause hunger
  • Gil’s description of what it is like to be both an architect and an interior designer on some projects, and his love of collaboration
  • Why even the most seasoned and famed industry professionals should continue investing in their education and broadening their horizons
  • More about Gil’s books:  A Place to Call Home and The Great American House
  • A little lesson on how to look at a renovation project through the eyes of an expert
  • More about his work with the great Miles Redd, a total rock star designer, and how they complement each other perfectly
  • Why we can learn something when we venture out of our comfort zone instead of staying within the confines of what we like
  • His renovation of a summer camp home in Mill Valley, CA with designer Rita Konig, and how they kept the feel of an old house even though it was completely rebuilt
  • What types of things signal a sense of being added over time in architecture, and why “perfect” isn’t always the goal
  • Why bigger isn’t always better when it comes to architecture
  • The importance of continuity, order, and clarity in creating a project that makes sense, and Gil’s personal pet peeves in architecture. (yes, Gil is a Virgo)
  • Ways to spruce up old lighting fixtures and improve the quality of lighting
  • Ways to mix modernism and traditionalism in the same space
  • The different feels of Gil’s homes in Hudson Valley and Maine

Decorating Dilemmas

We still have overhead track lighting. Should that go?


While track lighting is great for the office, we all feel that you should consider different lighting for your home. Gil suggests a few lamps, or replacing the bulbs for ones that are LED, dimmable and even smaller. We all do agree on one thing – no ceiling fans in the kitchen, unless you want dust in your guac!


My bachelor client is re-doing a brick brownstone in Boston. Do you have a suggestion for color & style of kitchen cabinets ? Thank you.

Gil asks, what’s the color palette, and is the rest of the brownstone traditional? Gil tends to do light colored kitchens to make it easier to see everything. Whether you do choose modern or traditional, make it obvious that your choice was intentional. Take a strong stance instead of doing either halfway.

Show Notes:

Please send in your questions so we can answer them on our next episode! And of course, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes so you never miss an episode. You can always check back here to see new episodes, but if you subscribe, it’ll automatically download to your phone.

Happy Decorating!

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Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.